Dear Cathedral Parish Family,

It was just over a year ago that our country and our community entered into an unprecedented time. Like many of you, we too, did not know what to expect, especially after making the difficult decision to suspend public Mass in March of 2020; but it was in these dire times that we saw the best in people.

As I reflect on the past year, I know without a doubt that it was you, our parish family, who made it possible for us to continue our mission to worship, teach and serve. As we reopened in-person worship in May of 2020, you answered the call to assist as ushers, servers, lectors, musicians, and other volunteers to help us provide a safe in-person worship experience as well as our vital online ministry. You socially distanced in driveway gatherings, you came for our “Trunk or Treat” event in October, you worshipped with us virtually through our Mass Livestream, and so much more.

 Today, I have some good news to share with you. As we watch the trends from across the country and specifically in our own local community, we are seeing more people vaccinated daily. Hospitalization and new positive cases are continuing to decline, and we see communities opening up again. Even right here in Knox County, we have seen a dramatic decrease in the daily positive COVID case count.

Because of these positive developments, on Tuesday afternoon, I sent out a survey to get your input to help guide us in the next steps of opening our Cathedral to broader in-person participation over the next several weeks. We had an overwhelming response to the survey. As of today, we have received over 500 responses, and below I have shared the survey results with you. In looking at the survey’s metrics, 87% of you showed a desire to participate in-person at Mass currently or in the near future.

This weekend, we will begin a gradual transition to full capacity by removing 1/3 of our ropes from the pews. With that said, we still want to encourage social distancing when possible and the wearing of masks while attending Mass. We will continue to live-stream our Masses, and we will continue to offer overflow seating, with Holy Communion distributed in the Cathedral Hall. Should the current trends begin to move in the wrong direction, we will reassess the measures needed to provide a safe and beautiful worship experience.

Finally, thank you for all that you have done for the Cathedral Parish and for me. I am truly humbled to be your pastor. Your prayers and support have been a stronghold for me during the last year. I pray that you too, have been strengthened by this community.  As the living stones of God’s Sacred Temple, you have made the Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus a refuge and a strength in times of trouble. (Psalm 46) You are a daily reminder of one of my favorite quotes from the Bible, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice!”-Philippians 4:4

In Christ,

Very Rev. David A. Boettner, V.G.

Vicar General –Diocese of Knoxville

Rector – Cathedral of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus

Survey Results as of 10:27 am on 3/18/2021